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tv   Way Too Early  MSNBC  April 18, 2013 2:30am-3:00am PDT

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the new clues and evidence that could lead to a major break in the case. and the president is calling it a, quote, shameful day in washington, end quote. the push for the expanded background checks, after the proposal fell six votes of passage in the senate. we want to get back to waco, texas, where the situation continues to evolve this morning. rescue workers are searching for survivors after the massive explosion at a fertilizer plant in the small town of west, texas. a town of 2,800 people. the department of public safety reports that at least 100 people were injured in the blast. the numbers throughout the night have fluctuated. we don't know for sure there. going house-to-house, or they were as of a few hours ago. officials confirmed, there have been deaths. but did not give an exact number. the waco tribune reports that several firefighters are among the missing. a number of buildings have been damaged or destroyed, including a nursing home, apartment
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complex and dozens of private homes. the blast could be felt, get this, as far away as 70 miles. it registered a 2.1 magnitude by the usgs. authorities are concerned about a possible second explosion. and have asked residents to remain indoors because of the threat of toxic fumes from fire. there's ammonia, perhaps, in the air. for more on the story, let's go to charles hadlock, in west, texas. you've been there for several hours now. can you update us on the information? >> we're expecting a briefing in the next few minutes or so. hopefully we'll get numbers about the casualties in this. that's what we don't know right now. we know there's more than 100 people injured, taken to area hospitals, as far away as dallas/ft. worth and waco and temple to the south. we don't know how many fatalities. the authorities say there are fatalities. there could be one or two every
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minute. but that is -- that was several hours ago. we're waiting to see exact by what the numbers might be and what they're thinking. it's been a long night. they've been going block-by-block, house-by-house, or what's left of the houses, trying to find survivors or remains to try to count up how many may with missing and how many may have survived in this disaster in the center of texas. >> quick question for you. most of this has happened in the dark. is there a sense of the scale and scope of the devastation? or is it just too early? we have to wait for the early light? >> i think we got a glimpse of the helicopter shots. you see houses obliterated. and a nursing home that was damaged. a high school on fire. 2,800 people live here. the majority of the infrastructure is destroyed,
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perhaps more important, the loss of life in the dozens. >> we'll go back to charles hadlock. when the news conference does begin, we'll go there live. we want to get you the latest from boston. president obama is set to visit later today. authorities have the face but not the identity of at least one person seen leaving a black bag near the scene of the explosions. they're circulating a photo of a man in a white baseball hat to law enforcement agencies. that, despite a confusing day of reports yesterday, that a suspect had been arrested. they're going through surveillance cameras and civilians. that has helped lead authorities to a person who set down a beautiful bag at the site of the second explosion. authorities have been recovering evidence from the scene, beebes to shrapnel. the pressure cooker. the lid landed on top of a
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nearby building. they're trying to trace the orig origin. meanwhile, the boston federal courthouse was evacuated yesterday afternoon. employees said they were told a code red was in effect and ordered to leave. all of this added up to a tense day that ended in no resolution. joining us from boston, chris jansing. take us through how president obama will spend his day and the developing situation, chris? >> reporter: good morning. i'm right across the street from holy cross cathedral. and the president will be arriving here for an 11:00 a.m. service. we've got a look at the program. it will include religious leaders, the mayor will be here. governor deval patrick. among those in the congregation will be the former governor of massachusetts, mitt romney. and yo-yo ma, the great cellist who went to harvard, will be performing as well as some chorus. it's a simple service.
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it's one that is all-too familiar to the president, who will be, for the fifth time in his presidency, be consoler in chief. after the ft. hood tragedy. in tucson, in aurora, colorado, the horrific shooting at the movie theater. and most recently in newtown, connecticut. this is a community that is still in grief, still in mourning. it's not just here. we saw emotions coming to the fore in washington yesterday. with the secretary of state, john kerry and first lady, michelle obama. take a listen. >> what happened on monday was a reminder that in times of kra sis, here in america, we respond with courage and grit and selflessness. and those who rushed to aid the victims, the police officers and the fire fighters, the first
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responders. and our men and women in uniform. that's the spirit of boston. and also the spirit of this country. >> that's chris jansing in boston. we'll continue to monitor the coverage of the president's visit on msnbc. i want to bring in chief operating officer of the strategic consult, former fbi official. i guess the -- excuse me. we have the west, texas, news conference. don, i apologize. it's in progress, about the explosion overnight at the fertilizer plant. >> i know from the previous doing a couple of these, that me asking you not to ask any questions is probably not going to work. just be ready for when you do, there are some things i will tell you i do not know. all right? i won't rehash old stuff unless everybody needs that. or are there folks here that need it?
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we're aware of why we're here, i'm assuming. all right. here's what i have so far. we have verified the times, are a little different from what we first thought. fire call came in at 7:29 local time. the west fire department responded to that call. and was in the process of working an active fire at the fertilizer plant. at 7:53 p.m., we got the first call of an explosion at the plant. those of you that have seen the video understand the devastating effects of that explosion. it was a significant explosion. i have talked to the troops that are on the ground there now, that were going door-to-door. and there are homes leveled. there are businesses leveled. there is massive devastation in the downtown west area. i will tell you, at this point,
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they are still in the search and rescue phase. and they are currently going from door-to-door, house-to-house, business-to-business, still looking for wounded and injured people that have not been able to get out because of their injuries. i can't confirm numbers of casualties. but i can tell you that we do have casualties. i can give you some numbers on injured folks from our hospitals. and what i have at this point, is that hillcrest hospital has treated at least 100 individuals with varying amounts of injuries. providence hospital has treated, to the upward numbers of 60-plus, for the same type of injuries. scott white in temple, has also received some injuries. they are working injuries from this explosion, as well.
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abbott high school is our relief center for evacuees. that's where we're sending people to find out about their loved ones. abbott high school is the relief center for that. we know right now that our mclennan county sheriff's department is on the scene, working this case, along with atf, who has been called in, as well as several of the other local government agencies to assist. i will tell you at the beginning, this is a crime scene. we're not indicating that it is a crime. but we don't know. what that means to us, that until we know it's an industrial accident, we will work it as a crime scene. atf is conducting the main investigation at that crime scene. which is the fertilizer plant.
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mclennan county sheriff's department will be investigating any of the deaths that resulted from that explosion that occurred earlier this evening. there will be investigations by mclennan county s.o. that being said, i don't have a hard number yet. i can confirm that we are still missing several firefighters that were on the scene fighting the fire. the explosion occurred while they were actively trying to put that fire out. there was a law enforcement official on that scene, as well, that was working with the fire department in some type of capacity. until we know for sure who those individuals are and specific numbers, i can tell you that they range anywhere from three to five, as far as the number of firefighters that are missing. the casualty numbers, i don't have a hard number to get to you at this point. they are still working on that.
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i can tell you that it is estimated anywhere from 5 to 15 at this point. i know that's a rough estimate. but that's the best i can give you. i know system of you have questions. what i will ask you to do is please let me call on you so we don't shout over each other. it's very difficult to hear, as y'all know with the generators and such. that brings you up to speed on where we are. i will tell you that that area down where the fertilizer plant is, is shut down. that neighborhood is shut down. i just talked to the mclennan county chief deputy who has his troops there. he told me some of the devastation that his troops are seeing is that there are homes leveled. there are businesses leveled. it looks like when the blast occurred, that the concussion and the pressure impacted, if that's the correct wording, literally destroyed homes in and
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around that plant. we're in the process of search and rescue. that's going to continue for some time. we are hoping that we will recover folks that maybe have not been able to get out from the rubble. but that process is ongoing. at some point this will turn into a recovery operation. but now we're in search and rescue. i know the area will be shut down. they will not give me a time on how long. i don't expect them to give me a time on how long anytime soon. in these types of investigations, there is no hurry short of getting the injured out and treating the wounded to complete anything. they will take the necessary time they need. they will keep that neighborhood shut down. i will tell you, as media, i know you're itching to get there. but it is not a good idea.
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mainly for your safety, we're asking that you stay put. at some point this morning, i will kick it over to somebody from west. it's been my understanding that either the mayor will come back or a city official will be here to address you. i have heard 10:00 for that time. those of you need to be here, please be here at 10:00. some official from the city of west will be here to address you in a little more detail of what's going on down there. at this point, they are working it as a search and rescue. they will continue to do that for an unspecified amount of time, until i think they have exhausted all means of finding people. until that point gets here, what they will end up turning into is an investigative mode. they will keep the area shut down. atf will start working the fertilizer plant as a crime
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scene. and again, mclennan county s.o., along with their resources, will start going from house-to-house and working any of what we'll term questionable deaths that may have occurred from the explosion. i'll take some questions from you. but again, let me call on you, please. and make sure you talk loud enough so i'm able to hear. >> why call this a crime scene from the beginning? why not hedge it a different direction and say you don't know? why call it a crime scene? >> better label it a crime scene. and then it turn into an industrial accident than to say at a later time. we always start out looking at worst-case scenarios. that's kind of what we're doing here. i can tell you, i have heard no indications that this was anything other than an accidental fire. however, the investigators in this case have not been able to get inside and see to determine what the source of the fire was, where it came from. whether it was intentionally set or whether it was not. they don't know.
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>> is there anything to indicate from the radio traffic that it wouldn't have been intentionally set? >> nothing at this point indicates we have had criminal activity. however, we are absolutely not ruling that out. the investigators will keep an open mind. and they will determine as they get through this investigation trying to figure out what occurred. >> was this an all-volunteer fire department? >> i don't have an answer to that question. i'm not sure. >> second question. what were they fighting the fire with? >> i know they had their apparatus there. trucks. i don't have the answer to that. i don't know. i didn't say 15 to 20. i said 5 to 15 is the fatality casualty number. we know that we've had at least 160-plus injuries that have been
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treated at the hospital. that's correct. yes. yes, ma'am? not at this point. they will get a better determination on the amount of structures. i can tell you that that is a pretty compact residential and business neighborhood. i can tell you from being in there earlier, that some of the homes that i saw described earlier as tornadic-type destruction. one home was okay. the home next to it, everything was shattered. wood was showing through. brick were pulled off the wall. it just had no rhyme or reason as to what it hit or missed. yes, sir? the toughest part for investigators in recovery is going to be having to wait to get in. number one, they have to wait until it's safe to do so. i can give you a little update. there was what was described to
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me as some smoldering fires that continued. not only in the homes in the neighborhood, but also inside the fertilizer plant itself. obviously, they're going to want to be careful entering any of the structures, whether it's a home, a business or the fertilizer plant because we certainly don't want anymore casualties from this fire. yes, ma'am? i have asked that question specifically about the environmental impact and the potential for that to continue. i have been told by the emergency management people that are in town, that at this point, there is no threat to safety from the smoke from the fire. yes, sir? >> what about weather concerns? >> so far, we're waiting on the front to come through at this point. i have not looked at radar. we know the weather is going to shift. the winds will come out of the north. again, i've been told that that is not going to be a concern,
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based on the fire being under -- mostly under control. >> two things you may have answered already. any continuing -- has fire resumed. and the geography, how many blocks affected by the damage? >> when i talked to the s.o., he described the area immediately devastated. he said homes were leveled. he said, it just kind of spended depended on where you were. he didn't give me specifics. but in close proximity to the fertilizer plant, that homes had been leveled. others suffered structural damage. windows blown out. roofs caved in on the inside of the homes. that's part of the process you have to continue. they have to go into each and
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every individual home and clear each and every individual home to make sure there's no casualties or people trapped or injured. no, sir, i don't have that. sir? i don't know that. i know they were going from home-to-home. obviously, i'm trying not to bother those folks on the ground. they have a lot on their plate at this point. i don't know specifics on rescues that they've actually done. daylight, it could become a little safer on first responders, based on being able to see. due to the devastation that is there, houses being ripped apart, you have serious concerns from wood, nails, stepping on
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floors that are not secured. potential for more roof cave-ins. things along that line. to answer your question that you asked earlier, from what i understand, the fire department feels comfortable in saying that they've got the fire under control. i'm assuming that they are still there, watching that fire. and making sure that it doesn't -- >> and the school and any other structures -- >> obviously, there was a school in the neighborhood. thank god that the school was out. that's something that before school resumes, they will go in. i don't have a report on whether the school caught fire. it's my understanding that there was damage to the school. but to what extent, i don't know. >> can you characterize -- >> ma'am? from what i understood from our emergency management people on the scene, the air quality at this point is not an issue. it is not a concern.
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>> do you characterize how much of the town was affected? one gentleman told me a lot of the town is just gone. >> i don't know. i can tell you that from when i drove through there, there was devastation that changed from house-to-house, block-to-block. it is a -- i don't want to call it a constricted neighborhood. there were homes close together. businesses close together. the main hub of downtown is a major thoroughfare. lots of businesses in and around the area. they -- the city of west has experienced a very significant, major event to them. they have experienced significant devastation in their town. they're going to be in a mode of recovery for a long time. fortunately, they are, as i said, a tight-knit group in this community.
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they've already pulled together. i would like to mention again, not only have we had local fire rescue, police, medical services, but we've had assistance from the dallas/ft. worth metro plex, as well. there's been an outpouring of support from medical, red cross is here. from my understanding, the governmental agencies are here. fema has been made aware. all of the issues get worked out at a certain point in time. at this point, again, our main goal and our main function is to rescue those that we can rescue, get them the medical help that they need and help those people start surviving. i don't have a number -- i don't know. i don't know if they were in the process of shutting down, had a skeleton crew there. i don't know that information. >> are there rescue and cadaver
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dogs making their way through the area? >> there will be at some point. atf will bring rescue dogs in. depending on the homes, businesses may use dogs to help service those homes, as well. yes, ma'am? i think that's a safety concern, just for that area. we would much rather folks remain in homes. we don't want people wandering the neighborhood. there will be concerns of people coming into the neighborhood, trying to sight-see. this is not the time to do this. this town suffered a devastating setback that they will recover from. but they need more support than they need to worry about people wandering, sight-seeing through their homes. yes, ma'am? one more time.
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i can tell you that i have had a report from some of my cohorts that a seismic graph in amarillo, texas, registered a 2.5 on their richter scale. can i tell you from seeing some of the video i've seen, from talking to some of the people that i talked to tonight, it was a huge explosion. the devastating fact that comes from the concussion, the shock wave that reached out from that. it reached blocks, if not miles, in its devastating effect. yes, sir? the question was, do we expect the number to grow in the number of casualties? i don't know. 5 to 15 is a significant number for a town this size.
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my guess is going to be, at daylight, once we're able to assess a little more, we'll see the casualty rate rise or the injury rate rise. we would like to say we hope not. we're going to hope for the best. and prepare for whatever we come across. yes, ma'am? the officers that were searching the areas were using that. i understand that they're color-coded. that symbolizes they have found homes that they have cleared, searched. they've -- >> if you're just joining us, you're listening to sergeant patrick swanton, talking about the aftermath of an explosion of a fertilizer plant. he did say that right now, they're saying between 5 and 15 fatalities. three to five first responding firefighters remain missing. at least 160 people have been
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treated at area hospitals. the neighborhood surrounding the fertilizer plant remains shut down. in a includes utilities. he said homes and businesses. his quote, have been leveled. nothing indicates criminal activity. but not ruling anything out. let's listen to more of what he has to say. >> it is on the other side of the interstate. as you see the lights that are across the interstate now. that is a fairground football field. that's where they initially took some casualties to. the site of the blast is more towards the north side of town. but it is not far from that at all. the mileage, as far as the inside of the city of west, it's not a huge city. 2,800-plus, the last census we had. the city of west itself is not huge. but it is compact in the area where the fertilizer plant was.
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again, thank you for your patience with me. i will tell you that, as i get somebody here to relieve me at some point this morning, i will make sure that i get them introduced to you so you know who you can expect to go to. please be prepared some time around 10:00, for somebody from the city of west to be here to visit with you. >> welcome back to "way too early" on msnbc. a few minutes from "morning joe." i want to repeat for everybody, if you're just joining us. there was a large explosion at a fertilizer plant in the city of west, texas. it's not west texas. it's the city of west, texas. about 2,800 residents in that town. you were listening to sergeant patrick swanton, updating us on the story, in terms of what the officials are saying, 5 to 15 fatalities. three to five first responders are missing at this hour. they're using a local high school football feed as a triage
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center. and in terms of who is sent to area hospitals to get a sense of how many people may have been injured, from minor to see veer, area hospitals have treated 160 people right now. the neighborhood surrounding this fertilizer plant remains shut down. we're told that utilities are turned off, as well. and authorities are going house-by-house to, assess injuries and who may still be in their homes and to encourage them to remain in their homes until daylight and they can secure the area and make sure it is safe. of course, there was concern about ammonia in the air. sergeant swanton said right now, there's no particular concern about the air quality. they will continue to monitor that, as well. in determines of in light of what happened in boston, some people may question whether there's some criminal potential in this situation. and sergeant swanton said nothing indicates criminal activity. but he's not ruling anything out at this point. now, we're going to have continuing coverage, of course, on "morning joe." i want to hand it over to mika.
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>> thank you. homes flattened. businesses flattened. this morning, rescue workers are searching for survivors after a massive explosion at a fertilizer plant that rocked the small town of west, texas, last night. at least 160 people were injured in the blast. officials have confirmed or have been fatalities. anywhere from 5 to 15 at this point. but they haven't given an exact total of death. between three and five firefighters are reported missing. according to reports, the blast could be felt as far as 70 miles away. registering a 2.1 magnitude by the usgs. rick perry has mobilized the state's resources to assist local authorities. a number of buildings have been damaged or destroyed, including a nearby nursing home. apartment complex, as well as dozens of private homes, completely devastated. the head of emergency response said some buildings were simply gone. initially, there was heavy
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